Eyes on the LORD

As I was struggling with a common sin for me (one you might call a pity-party) God directed my path to Psalm 25. I could barely peel my eyes from the Text. What kept resonating with me was verse 15:
My eyes are ever on the LORD, for He will release my feet from the snare.
I love the word picture snare creates in my mind's eye: a trap, hidden in the brush, waiting to clamp its jaws around my leg. Satan wants nothing more than for me to be tangled in my sin, thinking that I am unable to be freed. My snare is a bad attitude and assuming the worst about the Engineer. This is a sin because I am not rejoicing in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4) and not obedient to 1 Corinthians 13:7, "love believes all things."
So I look, I look, I look. I look to Him. At this moment, all I can do is keep reading and rereading Psalm 25. I begin to notice the if...then statements.
  3 - IF I hope in God THEN God will not let me be shamed
12 - IF I fear God THEN God will instruct me in the way
14 - IF I fear God THEN God will confide in me
15 - IF I keep my eyes on God THEN He will release me from the snare
21 - IF I hope in God THEN God will let integrity and uprightness protect me
I have to first choose these things THEN He is able to show up. I also can't help but notice that David asks for forgiveness in verse 11 and verse 18. This strikes me and makes me realize that even though I feel victim, I am not without sins...they are many and great offenses. It makes me stop to examine my own heart and confess my own sins of selfishness, pride and judgement. I need to own it and realize it's not about the blame game.

I love how this psalm begins and ends with hope. Something I blogged about last week. No one who hopes in God will ever be put to shame (verse 3) and my hope is in you (verse 21).  Praise be to God, for He alone is my hope! My hope of future glory, my hope to have the ability to change my sinful actions into integrity and uprightness. Where would I be without my amazing Savior?

Lastly, David asks much of God in this psalm. I count 16 things David asks of God and I probably missed some. As I stood in church to receive the benediction of Ephesians 3:20-21:
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generation, forever and ever. Amen.
I realized that our list of asking may be long, but may I never forget that He can do way more than I can even imagine!

Waiting eagerly

My nephew Micah is eleven years old and is really sick. He's been in and out of the hospital many times since April of this year. All the while, I've been trying to persevere with memorization of Romans 8. Somehow, whenever I get to the paragraph beginning with verse 18 ("For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us,") my spirit is always lifting their family up in prayer. And meditating on this passage more and more I notice that within that paragraph, "wait eagerly" is used three times. In verse 19, creation waits eagerly for the revealing of glory. In verse 23, even Paul admits to wait eagerly for his adoption as a son, the redemption of his body. In verse 24, Paul encourages the Romans to wait eagerly for what they do not see. In every usage, I understand that what we wait for is glory.
I think this applicable in every struggle. Whether you are waiting eagerly for healing, an addition to your family, redemption in your marriage, to make friends in a new community or any difficult circumstance, it is hard in the midst of struggle, but notice that verse 22 says, all creation groans and suffers with the pains of childbirth. Paul even admits that although the Spirit lives in him and he has the first fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control), he can hardly wait for the redemption of his body. However, hope is what keeps Paul persevering. We don't see the glory yet, but we long to see that glory. "But if we hope for what we do not see, but with perseverance (doing good despite difficult circumstances), we wait eagerly for it," Romans 8:25.
In Exodus 33:18-23, Moses asks God to show him His glory. Moses' request comes right after God promises that His presence will go with Moses as he leads the Israelites and God will give him rest (verse 14). So God grants Moses as much of the request as possible, for no one came see God's face while on earth. God placed Moses by Himself, He covered Moses with His hand while He passed, and after it was "safe" Moses could look at the back side (if you will) of the glory.
I can't help but stop and reflect on these three things:
  1. We have a place BY God
  2. He covers us with His hand
  3. We will only see the back side of the glory
When I read this, thinking about waiting eagerly for His glory I wonder, what if His glory is passing by and we don't realize it in the midst of the painful circumstances? Surely, we are in the cleft of the rock, being covered by His hand. And if we persevere as we hope for what we do not see (Romans 8:25), God's glory will pass by and we'll see Him and His will from behind. I love the picture that Casting Crown's song, "Already There," paints:
When I'm lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory
Cause You're already there...
One day I'll stand before You
And look back on the life I've lived
I can't wait to enjoy the view
And see how all the pieces fit

Praise the Lord that He's already there and while we don't see the glory yet, He's covering us with His hand.

Eucharisteo precedes the miracle

Monday, August 13, 2012
For months, the tug of war keeps repeating. The passions and selfishness of my mortal body wage war against the law of my mind where God is on the throne. A struggle with the sin of my flesh as Paul describes in Romans 7. I see a new battle on the horizon. I know the good that I want to do as the occasion ahead arrives, but I know too well from the past, that I may not win this war. I'm feeling disheartened. Oh Lord, how can I emerge victorious?
This morning, with kids conversing in the background while munching on the once-in-a-very-rare-while treat of Lucky Charms, God reveals a mystery. Still parked in Romans 7, and reading about Paul's wrestle, letting it sink in, I read verse 24-25, "Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" What I've found interesting for weeks if that "thanks" in the NASB is Strong's G5485, charis. I recall this word well after reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It's greek for grace, God's gift that cause us joy. Digging deeper, and looking to other translations, I see that in the KJV, "thanks" is labeled with Strong's G2168, eucharisteo, which contains the root word charis, but means to be give thanks for the the gift of grace that causes joy. I am struggling to see how gift and joy fits into this context. (I may be slow to connect the threads.) I review my notes from One Thousand Gifts. In Voskamp's work, she studied all the different occasions eucharisteo occurs in the New Testament. One of them is John 11:41, when Jesus prays and thanks God for hearing him right before Lazarus is raised from the dead. Eucharisteo-thanksgiving-always precedes the miracle.
In that moment, the lightbulb goes on! Yes, I know that Jesus is the only way I can be free from the slavery of sin, but the vehicle He uses to set me free might just be eucharisteo!
As I face the situation ahead which I expect to be a struggle and doubt I can emerge mature and complete in my faith, is all I need eucharisteo? I believe it! From making my list of 1000 gifts, I have seen God completely change my attitude and heart in tough situations by intentionally naming the gifts He does give, why would he not also set me free now as I give thanks? Yes, I will start my list of thanks, fully expecting eucharisteo to precede the miracle!